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Financial Advisor Magazine: Want a College Refund for Covid Chaos?

October 6, 2020
Financial Advisor Magazine: Want a College Refund for Covid Chaos?

Even outside of a pandemic, getting a college tuition refund or reimbursement could be tricky. Confusion has only increased since the spring, and is coming to light even more now that fall semesters are in full swing at colleges and universities nationwide. 

Kevin Walker dives into the college refund conundrum for Financial Advisor Magazine.

Many schools attempted to curb outbreaks by delaying the start of in person classes, or switching entirely to online-only instruction. 

But despite Covid-19 concerns, many schools opened doors for on-campus learning and the inevitable spread of the virus still happened, despite mask requirements, rules against large groups and gatherings, and other restrictions, Walker states.

College And University Response

Some colleges and universities have tried to limit further spread by recommending students quarantine and shelter in place. Financial Advisor mentions the University of Arizona’s two-week shelter in place order that was implemented on September 14.

This semester is proving to definitely be a challenge for higher education administrators nationwide – at no real surprise. 

College Refund Policies

Adding to the chaos are college refund policies. The majority of colleges and universities provide no refunds for tuition beyond the first few weeks of classes, according to an Ipsos poll for Allianz Global Assistance. Virtually none provide refunds for academic fees and room and board. That same poll found that about 85% of parents and students said they would be hurt financially if there were no refund at all. 

As Walker states, it’s important to know what policies generally exist:

• When a student withdraws during a semester (because of illness or for some other reason) the college’s refund policy may include reimbursement, especially if the student withdraws within the first month.
• Colleges and universities typically offer refunds on a sliding scale. Most schools won’t give any money back at all after the fifth week of classes.
• On the other hand, if a student is expelled for a specific cause, such as not following the college’s Covid-19 guidelines, there’s no refund. 

Typical School Refund Policy

Tuition Insurance To The Rescue?

Tuition insurance provides refunds for students withdrawing from school for medical reasons. This is particularly helpful for students who withdraw in the middle of or late in the semester. Typically, they may not receive any tuition reimbursement at all. But tuition insurance can handle the amount not covered, including other fees that are typically excluded from college refund policies, Walker states. 

Tuition insurance doesn’t apply if a student leaves for academic or disciplinary reasons, or because they can’t afford the costs.

GradGuard, with nearly 400 school partners, is the largest provider of tuition insurance in the country. Plans exclude epidemics but the insurer issuing the policies, Allianz Global Assistance, announced in June it would cover students who had to withdraw due to contracting the coronavirus.

It’s important for students and families to know what’s covered and what’s not in terms of Covid-19 coverage:

  • Policies must be purchased prior to the start of classes. 
  • Don’t expect it to cover in-person classes moving to online-only instruction. 
  • Fear of attending class due to the virus isn’t covered.

Questions to Ask

Making sure you understand your school’s refund policy as it relates to Covid-19 and beyond will save you some surprises that may come up later on. Some of this may seem like a lot to take in, but with college being one of the largest investments most families will ever make, it’s smart for college students and families to look into the answers to these questions.

1. What is the college or university’s room and board refund policy? 
2. Is it possible to get a tuition refund if a student withdraws? What is the “sliding scale” of the refund-to-withdrawal time line?
3. What are the college or university’s current Covid-19 policies?
4. What disciplinary action occurs if a student doesn’t follow the Covid-19 policies?
5. What are the student loan options with the CARES Act?
6. Are there more options to pay for college if families’ employment situations have changed? Can the financial aid office take another look at the student’s financial aid package?
7. What are some ways students can make money in college or through off-campus jobs?

College students and families are prudent  to individually assess their own personal situations when it comes to tuition insurance.

Student Life Uncategorized

5 Perfect College Break Destinations

August 27, 2020

Feeling weighed down by the stress of college life? A memorable vacation may be just what you need to take a break from the books and clear your mind. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or explore a little bit of history, the following destinations are ideal for any college student craving a much-needed break.

1. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatia is a European destination gaining popularity among travelers due to its gorgeous beaches and cultural landmarks. Walk along the famous streets of Dubrovnik, Croatia, to encounter impressive architecture dating back to the Middle Ages. Consider taking a Croatia cruise to experience the beauty and history of this unique country.

2. Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Visit beautiful Tamarindo, Costa Rica, to enjoy one of the world’s most stunning beaches. The beaches here feature crystal blue waters and calm waves. A visit to this area’s beaches may even allow you to get up close and personal with local wildlife, as the great Leatherback Sea Turtles nest near Tamarindo between November and April. Spend your days taking in the natural wonders of the region, then head out for a night on the town to enjoy the vibrant local culture. If you’re looking to experience nature and nightlife, Tamarindo could be a great option.

3. Panama City, Florida

Florida has long been the go-to destination for spring breakers. In recent years, Panama City has solidified itself as a college break hotspot. After a day spent enjoying the sunny beaches, dance the night away in one of the many local nightclubs. Don’t forget to stop and have a meal and a drink at the famous Margaritaville. No matter when you visit Panama City, you’ll find yourself with endless options to relax and have fun.

4. New Orleans, Louisiana

Though the city is known for its Mardi Gras celebrations, New Orleans is a great destination to visit any time of the year. This historic city features unique architecture, delicious food, lively music and interesting local culture. The French Quarter is the center of all the action, with must-see destinations including Jackson Square, Decatur Street shopping and the raucous party atmosphere of Bourbon Street. No matter where you go in the French Quarter, you’re surrounded by a medley of interesting sights, sounds and smells. It’s clear that a trip to New Orleans is a great option if you’re looking to take a break from the stresses of college.

5. Niagara Falls, New York

For those looking for a more laid-back escape from the college grind, consider visiting Niagara Falls. For centuries, people have flocked to this unique natural landmark to experience the beauty and power of nature. Get an up-close look at the Falls by taking an afternoon cruise on the iconic Maid of the Mist, then continue your exploration of nature by visiting the Botanical Gardens or take a hike at Niagara Glen Nature Reserve. Spend a few days at the natural wonder that is Niagara Falls to take advantage of the healing properties of time spent in nature.

As a busy college student, you deserve a rest from your studies to relax and recharge. Check out each of these locations to take a break from the books and enjoy life.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Student Life Uncategorized

Top 3 Characteristics of a Great Roommate

August 27, 2020

The idea of having a roommate can be exciting and little nerve-racking at the same time. We all have different expectations of how a living arrangement should be when sharing spaces with others. Whether you are a college student who may not have a choice in who you are living with or an adult searching for the ideal person to live with, there are certain things that should be a default when it comes to roommate situations. Here are a few of the most important characteristics of a great roommate!

  1. Make sure your roommate is trustworthy! Being trustworthy and reliable are valuable qualities. In most roommate arrangements, two or more people are responsible for splitting the costs of rent, utilities, internet, and other shared amenities. If your house mates are trusting in you to have your portion of the costs covered when they are due, you should always adhere to what has been agreed upon by everyone! Sometimes issues arise in which someone may not be able to contribute. This is when communication and understanding are key.
  1. They should be clean and neat! Growing up, we all learned from our parents and other adults the importance of having good cleaning and hygiene habits. This is important to implement when you are sharing living spaces with others. Part of being a great roommate includes making sure that the shared spaces in your residence are always clean and presentable. Areas like the living room, kitchen, and shared bathrooms should be as clean and neat as possible. Having good personal hygiene habits are even more important! Living with others should be a pleasant experience and this includes making sure that you are keeping up with your personal care (bathing, laundry, cleaning your room, etc).
  1. Be friendly and kind! Some roommates become best friends while others barely speak or interact with each other. No matter what your roommate situation is it vital to remain friendly and kind with each other. Being friendly does not mean you have to spend every minute together when everyone is home. By simply saying good morning, good night, or asking someone how their day was can go a long way. Feeling comfortable in your residence starts with the way you treat your house mates and vis versa. If you or your roommates have guests over it is important to never make someone feel unwelcome. Be polite and say hello!

Being a good roommate doesn’t have to be hard. There are enough stressors that come along with college life and living with other people should not be one of them. Take these 3 things into account when starting the new term with a new roommate.

Student Life

How To Make the Most of Study Abroad

August 27, 2020

Many students have the privilege to study abroad during their time in college. Studying abroad is a great way to fully experience a different culture for an extended period of time. When studying abroad you will likely have a million things you want to do. It is important to be thoughtful about how you are spending your time in order to get the most out of the experience. 

Here are 5 tips on how to maximize your time abroad:

  1. Plan ahead

It can be really helpful to plan your trips and excursions ahead of time. Once you settle into your new city and meet people who share your interests and want to travel, you can meet up with them and create a plan of cities you want to visit and how you want to spend your weekends. Although it may seem like you have all the time in the world to travel, you do only have a limited amount of time. A calendar of your trips can be helpful in making sure you visit the places you most want to see and that you can make accommodations far enough in advance to avoid hefty prices. 

  1. Take time to explore your own city

Although it may be tempting to travel to a different city every weekend, this can end up being too tiring and too expensive. Make the most of the city you are in and set aside weekends to explore. Try to look beyond the tourist spots in your city and take the advice of a local to get a more authentic experience.

  1. Walk!

Walking is a great way to explore a new city. If it is safe to do so, try to ditch the ubers and public transit and walk from place to place. This will allow you to stumble upon fascinating places you would not have seen otherwise and will also help you stay active. 

  1. Ditch the fast food

Did you really travel across the world to eat McDonalds? While abroad try to embrace local cuisine as much as possible. Although it can feel comforting to eat the types of food you are used to having back home, you won’t regret making an effort to eat new types of food. Eating like a local will help you to more fully embrace a new culture. 

  1. Choose your classes wisely

Sometimes when you are studying abroad it can be easy to forget the “study” part of your experience. It is important to stay engaged with your classes and an easy way to do this is to pick classes that incorporate the city you will be living in. This can be a history, art, or even a cooking class!

All of these tips will be helpful in having a fulfilling time abroad. Remember to soak up this once in a lifetime opportunity and do your best to stay safe and healthy throughout the experience. 

Student Life

Testimonial: Tuition Insurance Gives Peace of Mind to College Parents

July 30, 2020
Tuition insurance is smart for families to consider

Tuition insurance exists to provide a refund for a covered medical withdrawal when colleges and universities don’t. The best way for college students and their families to understand the value of GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance is to hear from a customer directly.

Anna learned about GradGuard’s tuition insurance before her son started college in New Jersey.

“We weren’t exactly sure if he was going to follow through on college,” Anna said. “He has some medical issues, so we weren’t sure exactly what was going to go on.”

Anna said it was in the back of her mind that Tuition Insurance was a good idea to have, so she purchased a policy for her son as a precaution.

“We weren’t exactly sure if we would need it, but we thought it was well worth it,” Anna said.

Worth the cost for peace of mind

Tuition Insurance can be purchased for as little as about 1% of the cost of tuition for the majority of schools that GradGuard directly partners with. That’s $10,000 worth of coverage for $106.

Anna’s son needed to withdraw from school for a covered medical shortly after the semester started. Because she had purchased a policy before the start of classes, she was able to file a claim for tuition and fees.

“The fact that it’s insurance and it’s peace of mind, and we actually had it, led us to feel more comfortable,” Anna said.

Thirty years ago, tuition insurance may not have been necessary, but today, given the high cost of college and ordinary risks of college life, it’s smart for all families to be vigilant.

“You just never know when you actually need it,” Anna said. “I would recommend it highly.”

College is one of the largest investments most families will ever make after buying a home. You insure your home, and your car, so why not also insure your tuition? You can with GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance.

Questions to ask your college or university:

What will happen to my tuition payment if my college student is forced to withdraw from school due to an illness or even COVID-19?

What is the school’s refund policy?

Do you offer tuition insurance?

GradGuard is thankful to work closely with more than 350 colleges and universities nationwide, including Ramapo College of New Jersey, where Anna’s son was enrolled. Learn more about how to buy Tuition Insurance for your school using GradGuard’s college search tool.

Student Life

Testimonial: Why Renters Insurance is a Good Idea for College Students

July 29, 2020
College students are smart to consider renters insurance

College students have a lot of stuff with them on campus, and they’re often expensive items that aren’t easily replaced. And so it’s no surprise laptops or bicycles are stolen or damaged from time to time. Colleges don’t replace these items, but GradGuard’s Renters Insurance can. Garrett, a student at UC Santa Barbara purchased a policy because he thought it was a good idea. He shares his experience with filing a claim for his stolen bike.  

Simple way to prepare for the unexpected

Garrett learned about GradGuard’s Renters Insurance through his school. He said he heard about occasional bike thefts on campus, so he purchased a policy as a precaution.

His Renters Insurance came in handy when he returned from work one day to find his bike that was kept outside his apartment had been stolen. 

“I had gone out to work and then when I had gone back, I noticed something was off,” Garrett said. “I went inside my apartment and I came back outside and I realized that my bike was no longer there.”

Garrett, a student at UC Santa Barbara and a GradGuard member, shares his experience filing a claim when his bike was stolen.

Garrett called GradGuard to file a claim for his stolen bike. He was smart to think ahead, and take a picture of his receipt when he bought the bike, to be able to show proof of purchase. 

He says he’d definitely recommend GradGuard after he was able to get some money back to buy a new bike. 

Garrett called GradGuard to file a claim for his stolen bike.

“I think just having insurance, in general, is a pretty good idea, since you never know what can happen,” Garrett said. 

College students are smart to consider protecting themselves and their belongings with renters insurance.

The Top 3 Reasons Renters Insurance is a Smart Decision for College Students:

  1. If you can’t afford to replace your backpack, bicycle or computer. Renters insurance can replace your stolen or damaged property and help you get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  2. If your school does not replace stolen or damaged property. The majority of schools do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk.
  3. If you can’t afford to pay for accidental damages you may cause. True renters insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

Student Life Uncategorized

5 Tips To Being A Successful Student-Athlete

July 22, 2020

When you first think of a student athlete, you think of the free clothes, gear, travel, scholarships, and the fame that comes along with it. You get to travel the country and play your favorite sport in front of numbers of fans. Although being a student-athlete may sound glamorous and fun, it is not to mention the stress that comes with the 20 hours of athletic training per week.  

Here are 5 tips on being a successful student athlete:

  1. Utilize All Your Resources

Aside from having a rigorous training schedule, student-athletes need to worry about attending all their classes and submitting all their coursework on time. As a student-athlete, maximizing the use of tutors and academic centers will make your life a lot easier. Using these resources will make it a lot easier to finish work on time and get private attention on topics you have not grasped. Resources are there for a reason!

2. Time Management

With the training, lifting, conditioning, classes,  and homework , it can be difficult to plan some free time for yourself. Making sure you have a set plan every day will help you find times during the day to relax and reenergize.

  1. Form Relationships With Your Professors

The first week of the school year is the most important for student-athletes. Establishing relationships with your professors will show them your initiative to do well in their class as well as getting on their good side. It is important to attend all the classes and office hours you can to continue to show your hard work ethic and initiative to do well in the class. Doing this will make it easier to ask professors for help if a situation arises.

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Getting 7-9 hours of sleep as a student-athlete, is one of the most important factors. Not getting enough sleep will make you feel sluggish and lead to an unproductive day. This directly correlates to your athletic and academic performance. According to the National Library of Medicine students that receive less than 8 hours of sleep per night are 1.7 times more likely to get injured than teens that sleep more than 8 hours a night.

  1. Learn From Your Failures

Do not let your failures define who you are. During your time as a student-athlete, you will have plenty of failures whether it is on the field or in the classroom. It is important to take each failure and learn from it so that you don’t repeat it in the future.

Being a student-athlete can have its challenges, but with these 5 tips, you are sure to make the best of your time as one in college.

Student Life Uncategorized

The Top Five Reasons You Should Join Clubs on Campus

May 27, 2020

So now you’re in college and you can forget all about joining clubs to boost your resume, right? Wrong! Just because it’s no longer required doesn’t mean that you should give it up all together. Maybe you were involved in so many organizations in high school that you burnt yourself out or maybe you just never knew how to get involved in the first place but getting involved in college can benefit everyone. Here are the top five reasons why you should join clubs on campus.

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Student Life Uncategorized

How to Catch Up In a Class When You’ve Fallen Behind

May 27, 2020

It’s inevitable at some time during your college career, you may fall a bit behind in a class. Despite your best intentions, you may have missed one too many lectures, jumbled up your notes, or just can’t grasp the concepts properly.

But not to worry! Just because you’ve fallen a bit behind momentarily doesn’t mean you have to stay there. There are some easy ways to catch back up in a class if you give it your best effort.

1. Go to class. Even if you’ve missed several class periods before this, the first thing you can do to turn yourself around is to attend class. This will help ensure that you don’t miss any more important information while you’re working hard to catch up with your classmates.

2. Take notes. Even if you don’t quite understand what’s going on in a class, take good notes as much as possible. This will help you later when studying, or going back over the information. And if you get help from a classmate, tutoring center, or another resource, it will help them to help you if you have good notes in front of you.

3. Make friends. You don’t have to hang around outside of class or really talk much otherwise, but it’s a good idea to make nice with a couple people that sit around you in your class. This way, if you need to miss class for whatever reason, you can get notes from them later. Also, you can potentially form a study group with them when it comes time for tests or examinations. Having someone to bounce ideas off of can be a big help, and they’re always available if you’re assigned a group project.

4. Go to office hours. Believe it or not, your college professors really want to see you succeed. Whether you have a class of 15 or a lecture hall of 300 students, your professor is there to help you out. Go to office hours, regardless of if you’re ahead or behind in the class. But especially go if you’re behind; explain to them what the problem is, and ask them if there are any extra credit options, or what they suggest you do to get caught up again. If you’re having troubles understanding the material, ask them to explain it again. Often speaking to someone one on one and being able to ask whatever questions pop into your head can help to clear it up. If not, ask them what other resources are available to you.

5. Do your homework. Even though some days you just aren’t feeling it, you need to complete the assigned work as much as possible. Whether it means cutting down your internet time or multitasking when you watch television, get down to work!

This article was originally published in Feb. 2013 and has since been updated.

Student Life Uncategorized

5 Ways to Stay Focused in College

May 27, 2020

Keeping up with the college life can mean keeping your mind moving in a hundred different directions. Classes, friends, work, activities, student organizations, events — there’s always a lot going on at once, which means there’s always a lot to think about any given time. That can make it tough when it comes time to get things done. Everyone feels scatterbrained and overwhelmed from time to time, but luckily there are some great tips that can help keep you focused. Below, are five:

1. Get into a routine
A great way to stay focused is to be in the habit of staying focused. Sound like a catch-22?  Don’t worry, it’s actually pretty doable—you just have to find a routine that works for you. Figure out how and when you work best.  Even take note of where you seem to concentrate the most effectively.  Are you focused the most in the morning in your room, at night in the library, or after class drinking coffee? Look ahead and set a schedule for yourself so that you always have a time and place to be productive.

2. Eat well, stay hydrated, and sleep
You probably think you don’t need to be reminded to do this; after all, you have to eat, drink water, and sleep to live. However, in college, not everyone does these things properly.  Staying hydrated is good for your overall health, but it also helps improve your concentration. The same goes for eating well. If your throat feels parched or your stomach starts growling at you, your focus is bound to suffer. Have a small, healthy snack before getting to work, and keep water on hand.  And never forget about the importance of sleep! Most college students know the feeling of being in class the morning after a particularly late night. Not catching sufficient Z’s is a sure way to make you feel spacey and unmotivated.

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